Missing Friends & Freedom In Lockdown

Missing Friends & Freedom In Lockdown

Birthdays are a moment of happiness and celebration but for those who have experienced a lockdown birthday, there is little doubt that any joy has been bittersweet indeed.

“I miss my friends!” was the starting point for the outpouring of emotion from my daughter as she celebrated her seventeenth last month.

Despite her and our best efforts to make the most of a teenage birthday in isolation; the hundreds of social media shout outs online from friends and family; the impromptu social distancing visits from her friends with gifts and Happy Birthday mentions from her online TikTok buddies whose spirits she has bolstered herself over the last couple of months with her comical videos, a virtual house party in her room just didn’t quite cut it.

Sitting on her bed at the end of the night, she cried as she described her sadness at the scenario we are all living right now, but more particularly those of her and her mates – our young teens.

I reached out as is always the way of a mum, for a hug, a gesture of reassurance on my part but one she didn’t want or rather couldn’t handle.

“Don’t touch me.”

Cut to the quick I withdrew.  Her words I knew were not personal but came from a deep point of loneliness and a fear of perhaps increased sadness.

There are many stories circulating about the impact of the lockdown resulting from Covid-19 on our mental health and particularly on that of our young people.  Their lives halted in their prime, they have been forced to accommodate a new way of life and living very rapidly.

As elders perhaps we haven’t found it so tough. I know I haven’t.

My home is my workplace, my sanctuary, it has always been my norm, so lockdown gave me a reason to batten down the hatches even further and kick back and enjoy the lack of stress sometimes imposed by the outside world.

My husband who travels most of the year was suddenly at home 24/7.  There has been much for me to love in this scenario and nesting more has provided me with the comfort and security I needed to survive the storms around me.

Yet whilst our teens enjoy chilling with us on a normal basis, i.e.between school and parties, without the option to physically get out and hook up with friends at all for days and weeks at a time, their anxiety levels have certainly risen.

Friends and freedom are the things they miss the most. They are after all the bedrock of their existence at this formative age.  Striving for independence and searching for connections are what really define those teenage years of growing up.  Suddenly deprived of those, it feels as if their world has shrivelled and robbed them of the stuff of memories.

It’s tough as a parent at the best of times and the teenage years require a certain skill set; a diplomatic parental compass as you guide them through the inevitable ups and downs of the physical and mental hurdles they encounter.  It’s a constant navigational challenge as you steer them away from the bad and towards the best bits of themselves.

Every family’s journey will have been different over the last few months and as parents we will have just tried our very best to get to the other end in one piece.  In truth despite the vast quantity of top tips to help us there is no perfect solution and no easy answer.

From a personal perspective, now a few weeks further on, with the easing of restrictions, my young teen is reveling in the option to escape to an outside space and hang out with her mates.  It’s no great parenting secret that teenagers need to be with their peers.  My daughter feels normal again.  Connected.  She returns smiling, glowing and with stories that make us laugh out loud.

Maybe there is some light in this story of restriction. Our teens are learning to enjoy the basic stuff in life; sitting, chatting without external stimulus. I don’t know about you but it reminds me of my own youth.  It’s early days but perhaps they will all come out the other end with a greater appreciation of what really matters.

In the meantime there is little doubt missing friends and freedom is a sentiment shared by young and old in summarising the personal frustrations of the lockdown. “Friendship is a sheltering tree.” Coleridge.  Even if we can’t hug them, friendships are our saving grace right now and pull us out of those dark places, whatever our age.

Editor’s Note:  Please do share your thoughts and experiences, I always love to hear from you.  Keep Safe. x

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6 Comments

  1. June 21, 2020 / 5:05 pm

    Gosh I completely agree with this. The two teens I’ve been in lockdown with have coped remarkably well but neither of them have had a birthday and I think that shines an extra bit of light on all they are missing. It’s been lovely to see them getting back out and about a bit over the last couple of weeks. I do hope that they will always remember this time for the good and the bad, I think it will help us all to appreciate the simple things in life. xx

    • Jo
      Author
      July 6, 2020 / 5:30 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Suzanne. I hope that they will truly appreciate what they have and not perhaps rush back into life too full on but take everything a bit more cautiously and with due consideration if that makes any sense. x

  2. June 19, 2020 / 8:03 pm

    Lockdown must be so hard for teenagers. I too enjoy being home so it hasn’t bothered me, my fella caught up on jobs around the house and my tween has been happy with video chats. It hit my 17 year old hard not being able to see her friends or go into town.
    I am so glad the restrictions have been eased a bit as it was my teens girlfriends birthday earlier this week and I am so glad they could see each other even if it was social distanced. x
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    • Jo
      Author
      July 6, 2020 / 5:29 pm

      None of us appreciate what we have until it is no longer there do we Kim? There have been real peaks and troughs in our household which I am sure is not any different from any other families, but the years between 16-24 are so formative for our teens and young adults and lack of freedom and access to friends is tough for them for sure. Glad your daughter managed to get out and celebrate with her friends.

  3. June 18, 2020 / 9:20 am

    Lovely piece Jo and in good time for the BritMum’s round-up which I’ll be putting together next week! I hope our teens will come through this time appreciating the slower pace. I am sure they will value their freedom a whole lot more!

    • Jo
      Author
      July 6, 2020 / 5:25 pm

      Thanks Liberty. I think it is certainly making them stop and think a lot more. It’s so easy for them to get caught in the immediacy of their world and not consider the bigger picture and there is no doubt that this has forced them to adapt. As for freedom well I think that has certainly been redefined for all of us hasn’t it? x

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